YIP 2105: Music

2015yip2A cursory glance at the category list will tell you that music is a big part of my life. Somewhere along the line I realized that I was going to have to choose between music and photography – that I couldn’t put enough time and energy in to both to have a chance to grow and get better at either. I chose music. Not that I don’t take pictures or have any interest in photography, as you’ll see. But the majority of my time and attention is on music. I’ve decided to break the huge category of “music” up in to two sections – “playing and writing” and “recording and mixing.”

I’ve been playing music for more than 30 years and writing music for probably 20 years or so. But in many ways I still feel like I’m just starting out with so much to learn, so many ways to get better.



pianoPiano is my first instrument, having started lessons when I was 9. But I feel like I was a better piano player 10 or 15 years ago than I am now. Most of that has to do with my finger strength and related timing issues. I find myself playing unevenly too much. I’m not sure what to attribute that to, but I do know that there are finger exercises designed to improve those two specific issues.


My poor guitar. It must think, “after all the love and craftsmanship that Del put into making me, and with all the incredibly talented guitarists that buy his guitars, how did I get stuck with a hack like this?” I’m so sorry, my friend. I promise I will try to get better, to play more fingerstyle and less bombastic strumming, to play more melodically and less boisterously. Learning scales better will be a good place to start. And I’d like to learn to read TAB and play solos and songs from great guitarists. Or good guitarists. Might take a while to work up to Phil Keaggy and Kerry Livgren music.


Hymns are still an enigma to me. There’s something about the way they are structured that just gives me fits. I’ve managed to play a few hymns here and there by writing out chord charts and just playing them that way. However, they become over-simplified and you lose so much of the movement in doing so. I’m afraid there’s nothing for it but sitting down and practicing them.


In addition to the timing issues I mentioned on the piano, I’m also seeing as I record that I am often ahead of the beat. I don’t hear it when I’m recording, but it’s obvious when I listen back. So, it must also be happening when I’m playing live. I’ve still got to dig into a bit to find ways to help that. Maybe listening exercises, maybe playing to a click more.


Orchestration/Vocal parts

More and more I’m interested in using orchestral instruments and writing vocal arrangements. The problem with this is that I have no background at all in either. So I’ve got a bit of catching up to do. There are some materials out there to help, but I think the most helpful thing would be to find people who are skilled at it and learn from them.


Every time Demetrios and I have spend time intentionally writing music good things happen. Even the unintentional times. Maybe they aren’t all hit songs, but there’s always something good that comes out of it that neither of us would have found on our own. More of that, please.


One of the problems with playing piano the way I have for so long is that I often find myself doing the same things. This is true on the guitar as well. I have found with the guitar that playing in DADGAD [warning: the DADGAD.org website autoplays music…it’s very nice…it’s just, how do I turn it off? Why do people do that on their website? I mean, I know it’s pretty and all, but what if I was listening to something else while surfing the internet?], as I was saying, playing in DADGAD as I have for the past 15 years or so helps me think outside of the standard chords, but still there’s not of “different” in the music I write. Not that there’s anything wrong with having a style, but I’d like to try other styles and see what I can learn from them and what I can incorporate into my style. Active listening to a variety of styles is going to be very important in that respect.

A little every day

Well, maybe not every day. But as often as possible. I’ve got the studio set up, so it’s easy enough to sit down and open up Studio One and record whatever is on my mind. I used to be much better at that, and I’ve got pieces of dozens of songs to show for it. Some of them never went anywhere, some I thought interesting enough to warrant more time and energy. So I need to get back to putting musical thoughts down as often as possible.

February 3, 2015  Tags: , , , , , ,   Posted in: music, Year in Preview

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